10 Greatest Challenges Virtual Teams are Facing Now

By Tiffany Harper

With the Covid-19 pandemic currently afflicting the globe, businesses are beginning to understand the benefits of virtual teams. Several companies are already moving significant facets of their work structures to online platforms. Furthermore, many more online service providers are springing up by the day.

The overarching belief is that virtual teams enable employers to maintain an excellent team beyond geographical restrictions. Employees may also enjoy far greater freedom and flexibility than in traditional in-person settings. We refer to freedom that has a positive impact on their health, productivity, and relationships.

This move has made the virtual environment more crucial to organizations. It allows you to carry out your business activities without flouting social distancing rules. Moreover, you can also enjoy greater creativity, convenience, autonomy, and flexibility when working with virtual teams.

However, virtual teams are not without their problems. Most people appreciate not having to drive themselves to work every morning. Still, specific issues with virtual workplaces will make you long for physical interaction with your team members. Let’s review the emergence of virtual teams.

The Rise and Rise of Virtual Teams

The rise is steep in the number of US remote workers. More than 60 percent of companies provided some form of telecommuting benefit in 2017, according to the 2017 Employee Benefits Report.

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) revised that number to 69 percent in their 2019 report. There are now more contractors and freelancers due to the on-demand economy.

According to the review of assignment writer from assignment help UK, Peter Valley, remote work inspires productivity and minimizes the chances of conflict. Employees will more likely concentrate better and take fewer sick days or prolonged breaks. Plus, employers save more per employee on real estate costs.

While Google and other startups are encouraging remote work, long-time proponents such as Yahoo! and IBM are choosing to scale back their work-from-home policies. It appears counter-intuitive, but there appears to be some method to their seeming madness. Some businesses find remote teams to be a mind-boggling adventure.

Remote workers are more likely to feel disconnected or alienated, according to the Harvard Business Review, says in papers of the top essay writing services. It’s advisable that leaders prepare to learn and understand the new dynamics of communication. It’s also crucial for team leads to think about whether everyone on their team is pursuing the same goal and putting in the work they expect.

But, instead of revisiting the traditional ways of doing business, companies can tackle the challenges of managing virtual teams for efficiency and effectiveness. Once you can identify and fix the issues your virtual team is experiencing, you’ll soon have a resilient, agile team collaborating to deliver the highest value to your clients.

These are some of the challenges that virtual teams face:

#1 Inadequate Communication

Do you own a workplace or manage one? You can tell how critical communication is. Virtual teams mostly communicate via chat, calls, and email. Accurate information must flow freely and accurately throughout your company. It involves hiring the right people, cultivating a culture of communication, and using the appropriate tools for the job.

Miscommunication is as unfortunate for business as no communication. Ineffective communication among team members significantly hampers productivity. Daily physical contact – which virtual teams don’t have – is vital to proper communication. When teams do not communicate in-person, communication can become hazy and muddled.

Within a virtual team, you can miss those non-verbal expressions that point to a member’s response and attitude to a particular task. Hence, as a manager, you may need to improve your team’s daily interactions to close any possible communication gap. You can also enhance understanding in your group by assigning modest and mutually dependent tasks to individuals.

#2 Cynicism Among Members

Relationships thrive on the currency of trust. Employees need to trust managers and believe they are targeting the same vision. It’s the catalyst for natural collaboration and engagement. This nirvana is nearly impossible in an environment lacking physical interaction.

Trust is a product of a shared mission, deliberate collaboration, and building strategic teams.

A direct impact of inadequate communication is that trust and collaboration suffer. Cynicism can affect a virtual team faster than individuals working in a physical environment. A team member is more likely to naturally trust another with tasks when sitting in the same room. But when individuals work from different cities, trust becomes a scarce commodity.

Remote team workers tend to thrive on assumptions. Some may assume mistreatment or unfairness in task delegation if they suspect a particular member isn’t as responsive as themselves. It’s more challenging to determine when an employee is doing too much or too little. 

One way to deal with these reservations is to implement a transparent feedback system. Let every member know what others are up to at every given time, and individual results should be accessible by every team member.

#3 Individual Differences

Individual differences can significantly impede the progress of a virtual team’s project. When team members are from different backgrounds, it’s hard for them to exhibit similar work attitudes. 

A nursing mother working from home would have to juggle between taking care of her baby’s needs and participating in work activities. A team member who is terrible at email communication might not see the memo you sent for a meeting scheduled for the next day. How about individuals who work intensely over multiple short bursts? They might not handle long meetings effectively.

On the other hand, a colleague who uses and propagates the gospel of a standing desk might be hyper-productive. These differences could cause friction and delay in project completion.

To deal with the effect of individual differences in a virtual team, you may need to set up an organized structure. Have your team members agree to a given structure for every task. You can also employ clearly stated standards and workflows.

#4 Decreased Productivity

Without the usual day-to-day supervision as in a traditional office, a few team members may not use their resources efficiently. This inefficiency can result in decreased team productivity, even when others put in their best. To deal with this, Stephanie Schwab, CEO of Crackerjack Marketing, recommends setting up a structure for measuring members’ performances and sticking to your business plan.

#5 Inconsistent Outcomes

In a virtual team, it’s easier to overlook distinct differences in working tools. However, this technology gap can lead to different outcomes for each individual.

To overcome this challenge, team leads should ensure that their members have individual access to every project’s proper work tools, says Melanie Vane, the security manager, who works with the department of dissertation writing services from Write My Essay. Each tool should also be up to date even when you cannot guarantee that they’ll be put to use.

#6 Lack of Team Motivation

Memos and online meetings aren’t enough to sustain employees’ motivation and team spirit. Therefore, it’s not uncommon to find out that virtual team members often get weary and discouraged. It’s usually up to the team leader to develop strategies that can effectively keep team spirit alive among the people working under them.

A March edition of the Harvard Business Review recommends a way to keep team members motivated. It encourages that you assign your members tasks in pairs and enhance informal communication among them. Besides, giving team-specific nicknames and celebrating and rewarding individual (and team) successes can help keep the team spirit alive.

#7 Differences in Time Zones

When team members work from locations with different time zones, it can be challenging to get them active all at once. While it may be noon on your end and a good time for a meeting, a member of your team may be fast asleep in the cool of the night. The way forward is to integrate collaboration tools into your virtual environment.

According to an article by Ohio University, IBM – a company with over 200,000 remote workers – manages its virtual teams by employing a Results Oriented Work Environment (ROWE). ROWE allows employees to work efficiently and productively from different time zones.

#8 Poor Time Allocation

Most remote workers aren’t aware of how much time they spend at work. And without adequate time management, individuals can quickly work below or above agreed periods.

Team leaders can tackle poor time allocation by efficiently monitoring workers and setting up timelines for various tasks, said in the report of some essay writers. They can also use apps and software to track work time for each individual.

#9 Different Response Times

Progress can slow down when team members don’t give timely responses to work activities. And for leaders to handle this issue efficiently, their subordinates must work within stipulated schedules and project deadlines. A structure must also be put in place to contain the effects of individual flexibility towards work.

#10 Unseen Incompetence

In a virtual team, it’s easy not to realize how incompetent some members of your unit may be – until the results become evident. And by this time, it may be too late to undo the consequences.

You can ensure that unskilled workers aren’t part of your team by hiring the right people. Your hiring process should be able to reveal any incompetence that may not be visibly noticed over a virtual working environment.

Conclusion

COVID-19 may have made virtual teams more necessary than ever. But, virtual teams will keep thriving. We’re living the future of work. Remote work is increasingly enabling businesses to compete globally, and it’s crucial to adapt to the emerging workplace.

The process of transitioning to this new regime is filled with challenges. Perhaps, it’s impossible to overcome it all overnight. But the process can begin with employing the right people, remaining patient while they adapt, and adequately tweaking management structure and function.

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Tiffany Harper is an experienced freelance writer and editor. Please do not hesitate to contact her on Twitter.